Wine: Drinking on a diet: a slimline tonic?

We drink wine for enjoyment, not with the aim of losing weight

THE "MOMENT on the lips" mantra usually springs to mind in the middle of a mouthful of something horribly creamy or chocolatey. It never struck me that the "lifetime on the hips" pay-off might apply to wine. But in the light of Atkins, South Beach and now the GI (Glycaemic Index) diet, wine too seems to be cashing in on the Bridget Jones market. Weight Watchers launched its acceptable if unexciting Riesling and ensuing low-calorie range a couple of years ago (2003/4 Riesling, pounds 3.99 Asda). This month, California's Brown-Forman brings us Chardonnay One.4 and a Merlot One.6, which sell on their low carb content, despite a relatively high 13.5 per cent alcohol. I wouldn't recommend them.

Consume more calories than you expend and you put on weight. With nine calories per gram, fat contains more than twice as many as carbohydrates and proteins. The good news is that there is no fat in wine. The less good news is that alcohol is the next most fattening substance with seven calories per gram. It gets worse. Wine also contains other carbohydrates, basically grape sugar. This is fermented into alcohol in a dry wine, while sweet wines like sauternes, port and sweet sherry retain sugar by the sackful. Calories come mainly from the alcohol and sugar in wine. They provide energy but no vitamins, minerals or fibre. Because of the rapid rise and fall in blood-sugar levels, drinking wine makes you hungry.

You can't take the calories out of wine without removing the flavour any more than you can take the marbling out of a steak. Where Weight Watchers et al score is in exploiting the wide variation in calories from one wine style to another. Port and sweet sherry, fortified with brandy and sugar, contain the greatest number of calories. At the opposite pole, a light German riesling at 80 calories per glass (whether or not it's Weight Watchers' riesling) is roughly equal to a slice of brown bread. In between, your average glass of dry white, red or even champagne, with 100-odd calories, compares with the calories of a skinless chicken breast.

So wine needn't be a no-go area for the diet-conscious. In moderation it even has its place in Atkins and the Glycaemic Index (GI). Better still, recent research from Colorado State University actually suggests that red wine doesn't contribute to weight gain and that there are no grounds for recommending reduced alcohol consumption to maintain or reduce body weight. Equally significantly, an obesity study into the relationship between alcohol and weight gain reported in January's `Alcohol in Moderation Digest' concluded that of the 50,000 women studied, those who gained least weight over a period of eight years were the moderate consumers of alcohol.

Nobody in their right mind will drink wine to lose weight, though, just as no one drinks wine just for its well-researched cardiovascular benefits. We drink it because it goes with enjoying company, relaxing and good eating. Follow a few basic commonsense principles and you don't have to sip gimmicky brands aimed at dieters. As a general rule, drink wines which are lower in alcohol and drier, for instance German riesling (lower in alcohol than New Zealand riesling), dry sparkling wines and dry French and Italian whites and reds in preference to sweet, fortified wines and more alcoholic wines. Drink from a smaller glass and with a meal. Follow the simple Rose Diet Plan: eat and drink less and exercise more.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

    £30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

    Guru Careers: Account Executive

    £18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

    Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Healthcare expertise

    Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

    Day In a Page

    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
    Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

    They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

    A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
    David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

    Hanging with the Hoff

    Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
    Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

    Hipsters of Arabia

    Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
    The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

    The cult of Roger Federer

    What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
    Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

    Malaysian munchies

    With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
    10 best festival beauty

    Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

    Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

    A Different League

    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

    Steve Bunce on Boxing

    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf